Technical Briefs

The Adhesion Failure Mode in Stainless Steel Trim Spring-Operated Pressure Relief Valves

[+] Author and Article Information
Julia V. Bukowski

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering,
Villanova University,
Villanova, PA 19085
e-mail: julia.bukowski@villanova.edu

Robert E. Gross

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions,
US-DOE Savannah River Site,
ms 704-2H,
Aiken, SC 29808
e-mail: robert.gross@srs.gov

William M. Goble

exida, LLC,
64 North Main Street,
Sellersville, PA 18960
e-mail: wgoble@exida.com

Contributed by the Pressure Vessel and Piping Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF PRESSURE VESSEL TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received August 8, 2012; final manuscript received June 18, 2013; published online October 10, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Allen C. Smith.

The United States Government retains, and by accepting the article for publication, the publisher acknowledges that the United States Government retains, a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for United States government purposes.

J. Pressure Vessel Technol 135(6), 064502 (Oct 10, 2013) (6 pages) Paper No: PVT-12-1123; doi: 10.1115/1.4025086 History: Received August 08, 2012; Revised June 18, 2013

This paper addresses dangerous failures of stainless steel (SS) trim spring-operated pressure relief valves (SOPRV) due to a particular failure mode (SS-to-SS adhesion), which is not currently being included in SOPRV failure rates. As a result, current methods for estimating or predicting failure rates for SS trim SOPRV significantly underestimate these failure rates and, consequently, overestimate the safety provided by the SOPRV as measured by its average probability of failure on demand (PFDavg) or its corresponding safety integrity level (SIL). The paper also illustrates the critical importance of root cause analysis (RCA) of dangerous SOPRV failures in understanding the impacts of various failure modes. Over 1300 proof test results for both new and used SS trim SOPRV from the Savannah River Site (SRS) were identified. RCA was used on the failed valves to classify those failed due to SS-to-SS adhesions. Statistical analysis of the data convincingly demonstrates adhesions, previously assumed to be only an in-storage failure phenomenon, are also an in-service failure mode, which needs to be included in SOPRV failure rates. The paper discusses the factors which potentially influence the adhesion failure mode, and suggests a possible approach to including this mode in failure rate predictions. An example illustrates how current failure rate models overestimate SS trim SOPRV safety by 1 or 2 orders of magnitude.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
Topics: Failure , Pressure
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.


IEC 61508, 2010, Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-Related Systems, IEC, Geneva, Switzerland.
ANSI/ISA SP84.00.02–2004 (IEC 61511 Mod.), 2004, Application of Safety Instrumented Systems for the Process Industries, ISA, Raleigh, NC.
Sheesley, J. H., Thomas, H. W., and Valenzuela, C. A., 1995, “Quantal Response Analysis of Relief Valve Test Data,” ASQC 49th Annual Quality Congress Proceedings, pp. 741–748.
Bukowski, J. V., and Goble, W. M., 2009, “Analysis of Pressure Relief Valve Proof Test Data,” AIChE J. Process Saf. Prog., 28(1), pp. 24–29. [CrossRef]
Bukowski, J. V., Gross, R. E., and Goble, W. M., 2011, “Probability of Initial Failure for Spring Operated Relief Valves,” Proceedings of the ASME 2011 Pressure Vessels and Piping Division Conference, Baltimore, MD, July 2011.
Gross, R., 2004, “Reliability Testing of Pressure Relief Valves,” Design and Analysis of Pressure Vessels, Heat Exchangers, and Piping Components—2004, San Diego, CA, July 2004, PVP-Vol. 477, Paper No. PVP2004-2610.
Bukowski, J. V., and Gross, R. E., 2010, “Results of Root Cause Analyses of Spring Operated Pressure Relief Valve Failures,” Proceedings of the AIChE 6th Global Congress on Process Safety, 12th Process Plant Safety Symposium, San Antonio, TX, March 2010.
Johnson, R. A., 2000, Miller & Freund's Probability and Statistics for Engineers, 6th ed., Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
ASME, 2010, ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section VIII Division 1, UG-126 Pressure Relief Valves to UG-129 Marking, ASME International, New York.
Shooman, M. L., 1990, Probabilistic Reliability: An Engineering Approach, 2nd ed, Keiger Publishing, Co, Malabar, FL.
Bukowski, J. V., and Goble, W. M., 2012, “Properly Assessing Mechanical Component Failure Rates,” Proceedings Annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium, Reno, NV, January 2012.
Bukowski, J. V., and Goble, W. M., 2009, “Unexpected Results from the Analysis of PERD Test Data & the Implication for Pressure Relief Valve Safety,” Proceeding 64th Annual Instrumentation Symposium for the Process Industries, College Station, TX, January 2009.
Goble, W. M., and Brombacher, A. C., 1999, “Using a Failure Modes, Effects and Diagnostic Analysis (FMEDA) to Measure Diagnostic Coverage in Programmable Electronic Systems,” Reliab. Eng. Syst. Saf., 66(2), pp. 145–148. [CrossRef]
Goble, W. M., and Bukowski, J. V., 2007, “Development of a Mechanical Component Failure Database,” Proceedings of the 2007 Annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium, Orlando, FL, January 2007.
Bukowski, J. V., and Goble, W. M., 2009, “Validation of a Mechanical Component Constant Failure Rate Database,” Proceedings Annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium, Fort Worth, TX, January 2009, pp. 338–343.


Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Plot of R versus time between successive proof tests (years) for used SOPRV

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Plot of R versus set pressure (psi (gauge)) for new SOPRV

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Plot of R versus set pressure (psi (gauge)) for used SOPRV




Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In